Brain Surgery: The Second Time’s a Charm

Brandy Moody avatar

by Brandy Moody |

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The crisp morning felt surreal. Whimsical frost on leaves outside my window reminded me that life has its seasons. Some seasons we succumb to struggles that we think hold us back, and other seasons we live in celebrations of triumph, with knowledge that there is sunshine after rain.

It was a November morning, Nov. 6, to be exact, when I walked into whatever fate the universe had for me. This was the day of my transsphenoidal tumor resection, or in simple terms, the removal of a pituitary tumor. With this method, the surgeon removes the tumor through the nasal cavity. The pituitary gland is reachable through the nasal pathways, which is great because there are no visible scars.

Second time around

I’ve experienced brain surgery before for a completely different tumor and condition. I had hydrocephalus, or fluid in the brain, and a tectal glioma, which is a benign tumor on my brain stem. That surgery was my third ventriculostomy, a procedure in which a hole is drilled from the top of the head and through the brain’s third ventricle to drain excess cerebrospinal fluid.

I tell you this because after that first surgery, I was able to leave the next morning. After my pituitary surgery, I stayed for three nights because the nurses had to monitor my levels.

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Preparing for surgery

When I arrived at the hospital, I wasn’t nervous. I felt as if I were just imagining myself striding down the empty halls to my preop room. The preparation was standard — I was checked for pregnancy, I changed into my purple potato sack hospital gown, and I had my arterial line, or A-line, put into place. (That’s a catheter placed in an artery to check blood pressure and take blood samples.)

I was all settled in, watching on TV the unchanging poll numbers ahead of a presidential election. It was an interesting time to be having surgery, especially because of COVID-19.

About 15 minutes before the doctors rolled me into surgery, a group of medical professionals entered my room. It was funny when the anesthesiologist was examining my mouth and throat in preparation for intubation. I tilted my head back and she said, “That’s it? That’s as far as you can go?” Blame the buffalo hump! If you’re unfamiliar with what a buffalo hump is, it’s essentially a fat pad on the base of your neck. It’s a telltale sign of Cushing’s.

Eventually, I was rolled into the operating room. I felt the cold, sticky residue of the electrode stickers that clung to my skin. I was breathing in fresh heaps of air through my oxygen tank, and I was listening to the doctors set up the machines.

“Are you ready to sleep?” they asked. I counted: One, two, three, black.

Post-surgery

I woke up squirming like a worm on a fishing hook. A burn of a thousand needles invaded the length of my throat.

“Hon, you have to stop moving,” I heard as my eyes were still closed. Pain. But I couldn’t speak. My nose was clogged so I had to breathe through my mouth, each exhalation a reminder of my throat’s itch.

I woke up to my mother beside me, anxiously waiting for the nurse to administer whatever they were using to soothe me. There was only one problem: My A-line wasn’t working correctly, so I had to take a jab.

That A-line malfunction caused a lot of problems for me throughout the night. I had to get my blood levels checked every four hours, as well as an insulin shot every now and again. My arms erupted with black-and-blue misery. I wanted to go home.

My lips were crusted from the stale air I was breathing. I was afraid to move because I had a catheter in place. I was taking 11 pills, morning and night: hydrocortisone, a stool softener, a laxative, and pain killers. It felt like being in the movie “Groundhog Day.”

I spent three nights in the hospital with the company of Harry Potter and my desire to go home. On the third day, I refused to let them draw my blood. My arm was so sore, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I was so relieved when they agreed to let me go home because all of my blood work looked good.

If I were to give advice to someone undergoing this surgery, I would say to bring a long phone charger, shea butter for your lips, fuzzy socks, and patience.

The first step to recovery is finding the problem; the second step is eliminating it. You’re on your way.


Note: Cushing’s Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cushing’s Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Cushing’s.

Comments

Lynelle Pienaar avatar

Lynelle Pienaar

My son, 11 years old, had his surgery on the 23rd of November. He stayed in hospital for a total of 9 nights. One night pre surgery, 4 nights in ICU post surgery and 4 more in general ward. The clogged nose and catheter was the worse for him. He is now 3 months post surgery and a different child! He already lost almost 4kg, grown 3cm and the buffalo hump is completely gone.

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Sandra Benke avatar

Sandra Benke

I have had 3 Pit surgeries - 1994, 1999 & 2000. Thought I had made it, BUT OH NO. I am now on my 4th, but cannot have surgery because all I have left is a rind of a pituitary. So I have been taking Isturisa for the CUSHINGS Disease. Everything is falling apart ESPECIALLY the FATIGUE ISSUE1

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lucie avatar

lucie

Hi Lynelle soo pleased your boy sounding like is on great recovery road.
Also pleased u were able to get C diagnosed soo early in your boys life - learning stages soo important.
I had op x7yrs ago - same recovery time. Didnt have any clogging jus the bowels after lying soo long hehe
Only loosing x6 kg per year which stales every now & again grr plus my hump jus as strong as was 7yrs ago.
Wishing you family all the very besties from down in Kiwiland :)

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Leysa avatar

Leysa

Wow!!! Reading your story was like reading my own. We had so many similarities with surgery. The only pain I had as well was the severe throat pain and my arms were covered in bruises. I had an A-Line that was not working as well and that was so painful! I also had about 4 IV's in me. Why so many? I could never get a straight answer. But boy was I glad to get home! I am glad you shared your story. I hope you are doing well!

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Emily Purdin avatar

Emily Purdin

Hi Brandy,
This is Emily Purdin in Portland OR. I'm a Cushing's Disease patient in recovery for 9 months. It took 2 years to be diagnosed but I believe the Pituitary tumor had grown for 8 years. Also, treatment was delayed due to Covid because the stimulant drug for testing was discontinued by pharma company. (Medical history began with Leukemia at 3, Thyroid cancer at 30, Paraganglioma tumor in neck at 42, then Cushings at 43.) IT NEVER ENDS. I have proven time and again that I am resilient; it takes everything I've got.
I am a Landscape Designer and trained Therapeutic Horticulturalist and love my work. I have taken the last year off to heal and rethink what I can physically and mentally take on. It is important to me that I share my knowledge to help create safe gardens that clients of any ability can enjoy. Getting back to work soon but it is scary; I don't want to let people down. But I know I have to try and build back my confindence.
Thanks for sharing Brandy. I welcome your comments, suggestions etc.

Kindly,
Em Purdin
[email protected]
www.stonybrooklandscapedesign.com

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